Lemon drizzle for 200th in the ultimate wilderness escape
by dogplodder » Sun Jul 31, 2016 8:43 pm
Route description: Sgor Gaibhre and Carn Dearg from Corrour
Munros included on this walk: Carn Dearg (Corrour), Sgor Gaibhre
Date walked: 12/07/2016
Distance: 21 km5 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
The last time we did this journey we had planned to have a coffee and something to eat in the station tea room.... but were unceremoniously sent packing as there was no room at the inn. A compleation party of 35 had prebooked breakfast and the poor woman was run off her feet and couldn't cope with any more. Would we fare any better this time, we wondered? The signs were hopeful as the train wasn't too busy and we only saw a handful of folk like us with rucksacks and walking poles waiting to get off at the back door, the only door you're allowed to use to alight at the remotest station in the land - which presumably also has the distinction of having the shortest platform.
Remotest station in the land
We opened the door of the tea room, tentatively, expecting to be told rucksacks had to be left outside as we'd been told the last time (before being told that actually we couldn't stay) but this time we and our bags were all welcome. The place is under new management and has been done up very nicely, although I don't remember too clearly what it was like before. We ordered coffee and lemon drizzle cake. My mother would have disapproved of cake so early in the day but that's just what we fancied and we didn't regret it. It was the best lemon drizzle cake I've ever tasted. And that drizzle cake set me up and kept me going for the rest of the day.... such that the food I was carrying with me was more of a formality than a physical necessity. It was amazingly good cake.
8.30 am is an excellent time for lemon drizzle cake
So, thus fortified, at 9.00 am we left the station and began the walk along the vehicle track heading east, taking the right fork and then turning right at the crossroads opposite the idyllically placed Loch Ossian Youth Hostel. Apparently this building was once the waiting room for shooting guests waiting for the steamer to convey them up the loch to the shooting lodge. We spoke to the two girls who took our photo in the tea room where they were having breakfast after staying overnight at the hostel and they said it was fine, but basic - although we understand it has just gone up from basic with the installation of a hot shower!
Loch Ossian hostel in a clump of pines at the water's edge
After the right turn at the crossroads there is an almost immediate left turn at a small cairn on to a newly improved path which runs parallel to the lochside track lower down and is part of the old 'Road to the Isles' and eventually leads to Rannoch Station. We later met two men who owing to the previous day's train strike had cycled in from Rannoch Station, which same strike had made business at the tea room almost non existent.
Loch Ossian, Mamores and Ben Nevis under cloud
At Peter's Stone we looked for any vestige of a path heading up the slope but there was none. So we hopefully walked on a bit but soon realised that when WH said 'leave the paths behind' it really meant that! So we headed off piste over lumpy ground, avoiding the occasional peat hag, and gradually gaining height under increasingly gloomy skies.
From Meall na Leitire Duibhe we could see Carn Dearg's bumpy shoulder swinging round Coire Creagach - which we were glad to follow, now on firmer ground.
Carn Dearg summit just ahead (M's photo)
200th Munro - Carn Dearg (M's photo)
I never expected to climb 200 and had never set out to climb any particular number - so this has kind of crept up on me (partly through meeting Moira after moving north a few years ago). Back in the late 80s and early 90s when I was often laid low and debilitated with ME I wouldn't have thought it possible I'd ever have the stamina to do this. It just shows how one should never say 'never' and in fact I've since learned that for me the trigger for those debilitating symptoms had more to do with stress than anything physical and climbing hills is such a great way of managing stress it actually helps me stay healthy rather than the reverse. I say this as an encouragement to anyone else with stress-related health issues - take to the hills and enjoy God's creation!
Pointy Schiehallion from rounded Carn Dearg
It was cold and drizzly at the top and thanks to our lemon drizzle energy boost we didn't feel the need for any extra calorific intake so decided to keep going towards Sgor Gaibhre which at this point was free of cloud although it was the kind of day we expected to lose sight of it at any time.
Heading for twin tops Sgor Gaibhre and Sgor Coinnich
Once out of the full blast of the wind, and more down to habit than hunger, we stopped for a snack just before the boggy bealach of Mam Ban. The bealach was muddy in places but wasn't difficult to cross and there was a path to follow up to Sgor Gaibhre's summit. It was here we met the two gentlemen who had biked in and were doing the round the opposite way to us. They mentioned the wet uneven ground between the Loch Ossian track and Meall Nathrach Beag, which they had found a less enjoyable part of the route. More of that later.
Sgor Gaibhre (goat's peak) is a higher hill than Carn Dearg (red rocky hill) but it has a less imposing cairn - quite modest in fact. The views from here are good but it was gloomy with heavy cloud overhead and drizzle (not the lemon kind) so not conducive to photography.
So I only got to be at the magic 200 mark for about an hour and was already on to 201. That was any thought of hanging up the boots at 200 out the window then.
Sgor Gaibhre summit
Sgor Choinnich - Sgor Gaibhre's twin top
There's a path from the summit down to the Bealach nan Sgor, keeping to the left of the steep east side of the hill. Looking across we thought we could see a faint path taking a rising traverse round Sgor Choinnich, which we didn't need to climb, but when we started up from the col, if it was there we didn't find it. So we kept on up the path towards the top, just because it's easier following a path, and were almost at the top before we veered off to the left. It was then an easy walk over to Meall Nathrach Mor before starting the descent towards Loch Ossian.
Lochan a' Bhealach and Ben Alder
Looking back at Sgor Gaibhre
Cloud following us - as it had all day
Gizmogirl checking her gizmo
Mary had mentioned that when she and Rob did these two they had noticed a new track not shown on the OS map cutting through the forestry between Meall Nathrach and the track running along Loch Ossian. They hadn't taken it but reckoned it would have enabled them to avoid the awkward felled section between the corner of the plantation and the path to Corrour Lodge and would have been a useful short cut. We couldn't see it from the point we stopped to check the map but as we continued to drop down with the corner of the plantation straight ahead it suddenly came into view.
Track heading into trees
Zoomed to track
The going was lumpy - what we call ankle-breaking territory - so anything to shorten it would be a good thing. We appeared to be slightly closer to the track to the left than the corner of the plantation we were heading for and we knew there was more rough ground after that so we decided we would risk a locked gate and head for the track. It's not visible in the photo but running parallel to the track is the Allt a' Choire Chreagaich, which was easily crossed on boulders.
Our crossing point looking back at Meall Nathrach Beag (map reference 41566 68977)
If we did this route again we would descend in a more westerly line than we did - to the left of the craggy nose of Meall Nathrach Beag and more directly towards the track - which would shorten the descent through heather and lumpy wet ground. The downside of doing that would be missing out on seeing the quirkily styled Corrour Lodge, which was rebuilt and completed in 2003 and is used as a country retreat for paying guests. In 1942 the original Victorian lodge was burnt down leaving only the chapel, game larder and schoolhouse and the current lodge was built on the site of the old lodge. Taking the route we did cut off two sides of a triangle and bypasses the lodge.
Track through plantation
The track led to a gate with a slightly awkward catch but a wiggle got it open and we soon emerged at a group of holiday cottages where we met some young folk from eastern Europe who had been taken on for the summer to work at the lodge. A left turn on to the lochside track had us heading back to the station, although one of the guys said the track on the north side of the loch was better. For vehicles that's maybe the case but we were quite happy with the one we were on, initially lined by trees and then with open views of the loch. Something we couldn't understand was finding a succession of uprooted foxgloves lying on the track. In their bright pink and creamy white colours they're everywhere in woodland just now and remind me so much of holidays when I was a kid. Why would anyone do that?
Beautiful Loch Ossian
West to Mamores
East to Ben Alder
Corrour is described on its website as "the ultimate wilderness escape". For me the proximity of a station and restaurant suggests it's not quite true wilderness.... but I do agree that Loch Ossian is beautiful and as holiday cottages go these ones are pretty remote.
Nearing the station
We had two and a half hours to fill before our train was due but this was made easy by the comfy sofas and good food in the Station House tea room which in the evening turns into an excellent restaurant. I know a day in the hills does something to the appetite but even allowing for that the two types of quiche we had (homemade with beautifully light pastry) along with a refreshing salad were excellent. So compliments to the chef!
The front of house girl was also so helpful and friendly, saying that although they closed at 9.00 we wouldn't have to leave then but could stay inside until the train was due 20 minutes later. We discovered from her that because hill walkers aren't big spenders (who knew?) the place would run at a loss, except for a generous subsidy put in by the estate owner. I asked why they would do that and she said it's to encourage folk to come and enjoy this beautiful part of the country. So philanthropy isn't dead - if you know where to look. It also makes good business sense for paying guests 11 miles from the nearest public road to have the option of a good place to eat.
Beautiful evening sky as we waited for the train
So a big thank you to Moira for agreeing to come out with me to climb these two when the forecast wasn't all that great. Most of the hills I've climbed over the past 8 years have been with her and it wouldn't have felt right if she hadn't been there for my 200th!
by dogplodder » Mon Aug 01, 2016 9:15 pm
by Sunset tripper » Tue Aug 02, 2016 2:37 am
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by jamesb63 » Tue Aug 02, 2016 7:50 am
Loch Ossian does look stunning
by tweedledog » Tue Aug 02, 2016 9:21 am
- Mountain Walker
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by dogplodder » Wed Aug 03, 2016 1:45 pm
Sunset tripper wrote:Well done on the 201. I camped at Loch Ossian near to where your 2nd photo was taken a few years back. A great spot and fantastic area to visit.
Thinking about going in that way to access to Alder hills - good excuse to go back.
by dogplodder » Wed Aug 03, 2016 2:30 pm
tweedledog wrote:Congratulations! And what a thing of beauty is a lemon drizzle cake.
I was so inspired by it I made one. It was quite good.... but it wasn't as good as the Corrour one.
by dogplodder » Wed Aug 03, 2016 2:32 pm
jamesb63 wrote:Well done ladies and congratulations on your 200th
Loch Ossian does look stunning
I think it's the wooded islands (a bit like Loch Lomond) but it really is a beautiful loch.
by shredder » Mon Aug 08, 2016 9:39 am
So what's the new target?
by Huff_n_Puff » Mon Aug 08, 2016 5:09 pm
Now I know where to go for good lemon drizzle
by gammy leg walker » Mon Aug 08, 2016 5:49 pm
by mrssanta » Mon Aug 08, 2016 11:12 pm
by dogplodder » Thu Aug 11, 2016 7:46 pm
shredder wrote:Well done on passing the 200!
So what's the new target?
A good question, for which I don't have an answer. There are some I don't see myself doing..... so maybe 250?
by dogplodder » Thu Aug 11, 2016 8:53 pm
Huff_n_Puff wrote:Lovely - congratulations on the 200 and long may you keep going
Now I know where to go for good lemon drizzle
When you get round to these two you'll have to have some!
by dogplodder » Thu Aug 18, 2016 2:24 pm
gammy leg walker wrote:200 and going strong
Not sure about strong....... but still going.